Market News & Headlines >> U.S.-China Talks Disappoint on Biotech

U.S. officials apparently had little success on getting China to move on improving its approval process for biotech crops at the annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) talks held last week. 

The issue is a major one for U.S. producers, of course, since many seed makers will no longer release new genetically modified crop varieties in the U.S. before getting Chinese approval because of the risk that unapproved varieties could inadvertently wind up in export shipments to China and result in the rejection of such shipments. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Friday expressed disappointment in the JCCT results on biotechnology, noting that while China has made “some progress” it has yet to fully live up to previous commitments on agricultural biotechnology that date back as far as September 2015. “Those commitments still stand and the United States expects their full implementation,” Vilsack said. 

In the latest JCCT talks, the U.S. requested China commit to clarifying how its approval system for new biotech traits will function in a “predictable, transparent, and scientific manner”, Vilsack said. Furthermore, the U.S. requested China commit to working constructively to help address the global issue of unsynchronized biotech product approvals. 

Vilsack said a lack of progress on biotech crop approvals will “continue to add years to the process of commercializing them, will slow innovation and set back global efforts to address food security and climate change.” 

The U.S. will be closely watching a meeting of China’s National Biosafety Committee scheduled for next month and expects that eight remaining biotech traits will be reviewed based on science and risk, and accordingly approved, Vilsack said.